Important Estate Planning Considerations

September 1, 2023 | David Lawrence, CFP®, AIF®

It’s a topic we all hate talking about, and even hearing and thinking about for that matter. As strong as those emotions are, it’s equally if not more loving to continue talking about it. For those that haven't read the title of this month’s blog, you may have guessed that I'm talking about providing and caring for our loved ones after we pass. As you will read in just a moment, there is far more to planning effectively than just creating a will and checking beneficiaries.

First, in the general overview of estate planning video sent this month, I used an analogy that I had a mechanic forget to put the sticker on my windshield after inspecting my car. Now this was a very easy fix, but all that work and effort was for naught without having the actual sticker on the windshield. In the same way, if we spend much of our lives growing our savings to provide a secure future and being vigilant to protect our savings against fraud, all that hard work will be for naught without proper end of life and estate planning. This planning, to be effective should include several key areas, starting with the following:

  • Beneficiary audit to ensure all your accounts have beneficiaries added – and the right people receiving the correct amount. More on this in just a moment.

  • Legal documents like a will, living will, and power of attorney being the most crucial.

  • General end of life planning should include planning for funeral expenses, informing loved ones about the location of your important legal documents, gifts you may want to give before you pass, and very importantly, long-term care planning. 

In a separate video this month, Todd and I discuss the different types of accounts you need to review in your beneficiary audit – either to add or change your existing named beneficiaries. We also reviewed the different types of beneficiaries. For example, a primary beneficiary is those that you want to be the primary recipient of your assets – while a contingent beneficiary is those that you want to receive the assets second if your primary beneficiary passes before you. 

Another method to plan for your beneficiaries receiving your assets is to consider using a trust rather than an individual account (a good example of an individual account would be a bank savings account). This month we spent time reviewing the benefits of trust accounts given their ability, amongst other things, for extra control of your assets, how, and when they are used – even after you pass away. Bear in mind that this is not necessarily something everyone should have and is certainly best incorporated into your estate plan with the careful work of an attorney.

To take that one step further, all this planning should not be attempted on your own. It's best done by partnering with an estate attorney and often having your financial planner part of this planning process is very important to ensure the effectiveness of it. Along these lines, this month’s podcast includes a very thorough interview with attorney Bill Cooper. This podcast is worth a listen for everyone – especially those that need to create or revisit their estate plan with an attorney. 

The best place to start is meeting with your financial planner to review your overall financial plan, your goals, and the assets that need to be protected and planned for after you pass. Bear in mind that part of this discussion should include the topic of long-term care and the best way to plan for it, should you need it. 

If you’re not working with a financial planner, or you’re attempting to create a plan on your own and your considering partnering with a planner, please Contact us.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.